Less than 12 hours after we were back from Mexico and its very hot weather, we had to trade our tee-shirts, flip-flops & sun cream for warm trousers, turtle necks sweaters & double-knit socks, on our way to Yosemite National Park, as the weather forecasts were not optimistic (rain and snow). We had both snow and v. heavy rain on the first day but the sun came out the second day, and the snow capping the moutains made great pictures!
Two of the roads to go to the highest points of Yosemite (Glacier Point Road and Tioga Road) were closed because of the snow, so we had to stay in the Valley. But it was OK as there is a lot to see there anyway.
Advice for future visitors: arrive before 9 am, leave your car at any of the numerous parkings available within the park and use the free shutttle buses that will bring you to all the main park features.
First, a bit of History
"Native American groups have lived in the area that now includes Yosemite National Park for over 3,000 years. A group of Miwok-speaking Native Americans called the Ahwahnechee was living in Yosemite Valley when European Americans first visited the Yosemite area. The California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century greatly increased the number of non-indigenous people in central Sierra Nevada region. Tensions between Native Americans and white settlers escalated into the Mariposa War in 1851. Settler James Savage (how ironical!) led the Mariposa Battalion into Yosemite Valley in 1851, in pursuit of the Ahwaneechees. In 1864, Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees were transfered from federal to state ownership. Yosemite pioneer Galen Clark became the park's first guardian. Conditions in Yosemite Valley were made more hospitable to humans and access to the park area was improved in the late 19th century. Naturalist John Muir and others became increasingly alarmed about the excessive exploitation of the area. Their efforts helped establish Yosemite National Park in 1890. Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove were not added to the national park until 1906" (Wikipedia)
There is a very well-made and documented exhibition at the Tourism information Center where you can find lots of information about the geological and political history of the Yosemite Park.
Some of Yosemite most Popular features
El Capitan a 7569 ft (2307 m) vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith is one of the world's favorite challenges for rock climbers.
Half Dome a granite dome and one of the most popular attraction of Yosemite park with its 8836 ft (2693 m) above the valley floor. Since January 2010, its ascent requires a permit on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Federal holidays, as only 400 people a day are allowed on it, for safety reason.
A good thing about visiting at this time of the year: the waterfalls. The ones below are the Lower (first 2 pictures) and Upper Yosemite Falls. It was not that cold, just very wet!
And the best of all, Tunnel view. To be seen at the end of the day when the light is softer.The water fall in the middle is the Bridalveil Fall.
And finally what I enjoyed the most about this park, its inhabitants. The blurry one at the end is a Black Bear...really! He was really far unfortunately, but Ce kind of made me understand that it wasn't really safe to run after him to get a better shot! ;-)
I really would have liked a close encounter with this one, but again, the last line in the sign made Celine a bit nervous...
Our 3rd day in Yosemite was spent at the Mariposa Grove, the famous sequoia grove. Two of its trees are among the 25 largest Giant Sequoias in the world. Once again, here the key words are 'ARRIVE EARLY'. Thanksfully, we arrived at the grove at 9h30 am and it was already very busy. The rangers closed the main gate just after us to regulate the waves of car. The parking facilities are a pain in the neck too, and it is fortunate that Mini can be squezzed in very small spots.
Some of the best known trees:
The Fallen Monarch: fallen more than 300 years ago.
The 'Grizzly Giant', below, is thought to be 1800-2400 years old! Its diameter is 9.1m (30ft) whilst its main branch diameter (2m - 6.5 ft) is larger than any other tree in the Park. It is 64m high (210ft).
The 'California Tunnel tree'. It was cut in 1895 to allow coaches to pass through it (and as a marketing scheme to attract visitors to the grove), this is the only living tree with a tunnel in it since the fall of the Wawona Tunnel Tree in 1969.
The 'Faithfull couple' is a rare case in which two trees grew so close together that their trunks have fused at the base.
The Clothespin Tree: countless fires throughout the decades nearly severed this tree's trunk, creating a space in it large enough for a pick-up truck to drive through.
After a walk of 30-40 minutes, we were rewarded with this beautiful place, the Sequoia Loop, with patches of snow.
The road we took to go back home.